Really, What More Could I Ask? SILENCE?

>> Thursday, September 17, 2009

I mentioned earlier that I recently attended a funeral. Family members who did not attend with me asked me all about it. Was it a nice service? (Of course, the right answer to this question is always, "Yes" but we are here to expose the embarrasing and silly in this world, and not to be "right" all the time.)

My answer to the question, "Was it a nice service," is, "I think so. What little I heard of it seemed nice, and every one seemed engrossed when I was watching them through the glass ...."

You see, I took Toddler with me to the services, including the viewing and the funeral mass. Yep. I took a two year old to a funeral. I drove him 7 hours across 3 states to stay in a hotel without his toys or his tv shows and make him hang out with dozens of people whose knees he has never seen before. What a smart mom I am.

I know we don't talk much about Toddler's prior medical problems in this blog (I have another one for that), but in this one instance, I must mention something in pure self defense. Toddler only got his "voice back" from his tracheostomy when we had his reconstruction surgery last February. Before that surgery, he had very seldom heard the words, "Shush," or "Quiet" or similar concept from us. We were so thrilled he finally had a voice that we have (mostly) let him use it. We try to keep the volume to a dull roar, and we are practicing "inside voices" and "whisper," but this past weekend made it very clear to me that the concepts are not sinking in at all yet.

Now, except for the evening where we had him at the viewing long past his bedtime and he was throwing his toys at random strangers, Toddler behaved himself extremely well. He did anything we asked him to (and a few things we asked him not to do). He stood when we stood, he sat when we sat, and he hugged when we hugged. All in all, his behavior was exemplary. At one point he scared a little cousin by running after him asking to "Hold hands! Hold hands!" but once I explained to him that Little Cousin didn't want to hold hands, he was okay with it.

The problem was, no matter what we did, Toddler had to talk about it and explain it all to us, using many words. Let's take the memorial service before the mass. Toddler had "loaned" his green matchbox car to his little cousin. (Okay, to be fair, they had been snatching each other's toys for two days.) I gave Toddler a yellow car and a white car, hoping he would forget about it for an hour. Nope. We sat in the back of the funeral home, listening to Toddler tell me over and over again, "Green car! I don have green car! I have lello car, white car, no green car!" Well, color me embarrased. We had to step out, at which point Toddler found the offending cousin (still holding the green car), which started the discussion all over again, even louder. Little cousin's dad gave back the car, but by then Toddler was all wound up and soon had to go outside with Grandma. Now, again, he wasn't doing anything wrong -- he just wouldn't stop talking! When Grandma would send him over to stand next to me (I was hovering by the door, craning my ears to hear the service), Toddler dutifully comes over, and promptly announced, "HI, MOMMY!" Oh, yeesh.

With all of this going on, I decided we couldn't take him to the mass. We just couldn't. This behavior was so disrespectful. But, one of the members of the deceased's family asked us to bring him, so, reluctantly, I agreed. I had some hope when he fell asleep on the surprisingly long trip from the funeral home to the church ... but as soon as the car was in "park" he woke up. Rats.

Once again, Toddler and I sequestered ourselves and some brave family members in the back of the church. Even my uncle, who was hard of hearing, had no problems hearing us, I think. I have never said, "hush," "shush," "quiet," "inside voices," "whisper voices," and similar things in my life, much less in such a short period. I even tried covering his mouth, but that seemed to make things worse. He very nicely played with his stickers (a rare no-noise toy that completely captivates). The problem? He kept handing them to the people near him and explaining who was on the picture. "Ernie!" "Bert!" "Big Bird!" "Coooooookiieeeeeeee!" (said in a remarkable imitation of Cookie Monster). We would quiet him down for a few moments, imitating our whisper, but soon he'd forget. When the hymns would begin, he would turn around in rapt attention, then announce to me, "music!" He admired the flowers, "Flooowwwerrrsssss" and he waved to the people he knew. In all, he was perfectly charming ... for an amusement park or a birthday party. Our only saving grace was the fact that 90% of the stickers were of Mickey Mouse ... and the deceased's name was Mickey. In the deepest part of my brain where I was trying not to be mortified, I hoped the mourners would think Toddler was mourning his cousin ... but that is far fetched even for me.

We got a lot of traction out of shoving cookies into the boy's mouth, with the only real drawback coming when he wanted another, "Cookie!" After the longest 20 minutes of my entire life, I finally took Toddler outside because he loudly disputed whether I was going to let him slip his body through the hole between the seat and the top of the fold up chair.

Outside we had a chance to toss crabapples with some other young, evicted cousins, and we even had a chance to play with a truck belonging to the same little cousin who borrowed the now famous "green car." We remained outside until the coffin processed by, at which point we joined the back of the procession. Toddler briefly wailed about being pushed out of the way, but in the mourning procession, this seemed oddly appropriate, so I pretended (and willed everyone else to believe) that Toddler was crying for the deceased. Then, as we followed with our flowers at the back of the line, Toddler dutifully walked along with us. He looked at our flowers, and talked about them, and told us that flowers grow in the ground ... and then he announced that we were all going to "march, march march" (which, in a way, we were). Last, and perhaps most memorably, as we approached the closed coffin to lay our flowers, he announced, "I'm MARCHing!" I didn't know whether I should laugh or cry.

The gathering that followed, thankfully, was not a mandatory quiet-time, so no one noticed any odd sounds coming from our lunch table. Also, everyone seemed quite amused and warmed by Toddler and his near-age cousins (including Little Cousin) hugging when the gathering broke up.

All I have to say is this: It's a good thing the kid is so cute ... and I'm long overdue in teaching him how to whisper. I was up to potty training and jumped right over whispering. Man, did I have my priorities wrong!


Susan September 17, 2009 at 8:21 PM  

Oh dear. You are good family to go through that to show your support. I'm sure if Ainsley ever gets her trach out I will start shushing her in no time.

Karin September 20, 2009 at 9:46 AM  

Susan, I have no doubt about that. I also have do doubt that you will be quietly smiling into your hand every time you say it, too. I know I am. I'm just so tickled to hear him, even though I'm chagrined at how inappropriate his yelling can be sometimes.

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